Do you love listening to songs that give you chills? If so, then you will love this list of popular songs in minor keys.
Many people don’t realize that many famous songs are actually in a minor key. This can make the song sound much more eerie and spooky.
If you are looking for a new way to listen to your favorite songs, then give minor key versions a try! You won’t be disappointed.
- List of the Popular Songs in Minor Keys
- 1. Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers
- 2. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
- 3. Hotel California by Eagles
- 4. Heart of Gold by Neil Young
- 5. All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix
- 6. Wonderwall by Oasis
- 6. Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers
- 8. House of the Rising Sun by Animals
- 9. Black Magic Woman by Santana
- 10. Angie by The Rolling Stones
- 11. Chop Suey! by System of a Down
- 12. Things We Said Today by The Beatles
- 13. Snuff by The Slipknot
- 14. I See Fire by Ed Sheeran
- 15. Hallowed Be Thy Name by Iron Maiden
- Conclusion: Popular Songs in a Minor Keys
- Frequently Ask Questions
List of the Popular Songs in Minor Keys
It’s been over 22 years since the Red Hot Chili Peppers released “Californication,” a vibrant meal that still sounds as delicious and zingy today.
The song was written by lead singer Anthony Kiedis, but the band initially had trouble bringing it to life musically until guitarist John Frusciante just showed up one day claiming he had the riff.
Also, the minor key—D♭ minor, to be specific—gives the song a much more ominous feeling and underscores Kiedis’ lyrics about heroin addiction and LA lifestyle.
When you get down to it, you’ll be playing A minor scale, which is ideal for beginners wanting to improve their fundamentals and polish every note.
“Stairway to Heaven” is one of the most popular songs in minor keys by Led Zeppelin has a captivating tune, thought-provoking lyrics brought to life by emotional vocals, and one of the greatest guitar solos ever, earning it a permanent top position in most rankings and best-ever lists.
“Stairway to Heaven” is an artfully constructed piece that employs tempo changes, chord progressions, and a range of keys, the most notable being E minor.
The opening A minor arpeggiated, fingerpicked section of “No Leaf Clover,” like a sonic staircase, starts out slow. More layers are added as the song progresses, including drums and then Jimmy Page’s renowned solo. The song ultimately closes in an uptempo hard rock section powered by Robert Plant’s distinctive falsetto.
There’s a lot going on when it comes to guitars! After all, it’s a Jimmy Page composition! It is both rewarding and gratifying to learn this song, as you’ll need to brush up on a variety of skills such as fingerpicking, arpeggiated picking, rhythmic strumming, and creating a melodic solo in E minor.
Who hasn’t air guitared to “Hotel California’s” monumental twin solo for a 2-minute and 20-second long sonic treat that takes your breath away! Don Felder and Joe Walsh’s guitar mastery is on full display in this 2:20 song.
Believe it or not, this impromptu-sounding solo was not an improvised interplay; rather, it was a note-for-note replay of the instrumental demo that Felder had created! However, it cannot detract from the fact that it is without a doubt the greatest guitar solo in history.
The song isn’t in B minor as most songs are. It wiggles about a lot as the song develops. You’ll hear chords such as F#m and E from B harmonic minor, both of which originate from B Dorian. But because the verses are in B natural minor, you could argue that the song is centered around that key.
Neil Young, who had recently suffered a back injury, composed an album of delicate acoustic-driven-harmonica-infused gems that were a contrast to his previous electric music. It was during this time that he conceived “Heart of Gold,” which skyrocketed his popularity and made him an international sensation.
Aside from being a timeless classic that has been covered by several amazing artists, “Heart of Gold” is an excellent song for any aspiring guitarist to add to his collection. “Heart of Gold” is in the key of E minor and is mostly made up of open chords, making it very approachable for beginners.
“All Along the Watchtower,” is another one of the most popular songs in minor keys that is originally written and recorded by Bob Dylan, achieved little popularity before Jimi Hendrix performed it. The original modest acoustic piece was transformed into an electric marvel teeming with amazing solos and jaw-dropping licks by guitar giant Jimi Hendrix.
After Dylan’s original, Jimi Hendrix’s version became a smashing hit and his highest-ranking American single. It was ranked number 48 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, and it is widely regarded as one of the best covers ever written. While Dylan wrote his song in the key of A minor, Hendrix’s cover is in the key of D minor.
Originally released in the mid-nineties and for good reason, “Wonderwall” by Oasis is a campfire favorite since it’s just that groovy. With an extraordinarily high sing-along quotient, “Wonderwall” by Oasis is undeniably groovy, beginner-friendly, and fun to sing.
The song is in the key of F sharp minor, but it swings between F#m and A major if you listen closely. To play it easiest and fuss-free, use Em, G, D, A7sus4 with a C chord in the pre-chorus.
To make it sound similar to the original, you’ll need to place a capo on the second fret. The 16th strum pattern may get quick, so you’ll have to set aside some time to master it correctly. This song is one of my favorites and is easily one of the most popular songs in minor keys.
Bill Withers’ “Aint No Sunshine,” which is built around the pleasant A minor key, is an immersive experience for listeners. With beautiful vocals, heartfelt lyrics, and a unique “I Know” loop that almost always elicits a crowd chorus, Bill Withers’ “Aint No Sunshine.”
According to legend, Bill Withers originally wrote the loop as a filler in order to include more lyrics later on, but other musicians urged him to leave it that way. This song has become a live standard performed by many performers in a variety of genres since its release in Bill Withers’ 1971 album.
This Grammy-winning song is ideal for players who want to concentrate on minor chords. The majority of the song is made up of Am, Em, and Dm chords, which provide lots of practice in chord changes and timing the beat. You may always add more flair by using suspended chords and other sophisticated arrangements as you go along. This is one of the best minor key songs.
In 1964, The Animals decided to do something unusual. They converted a 19th-century folk classic into a chart-topping folk-rock song! The gritty ballad with hidden depths is about a man who had fallen on hard times in New Orleans and was warned that his life would continue to go downhill if he didn’t make an effort to change his ways.
The song is written in the key of A minor and has been covered by many artists over the years, such as The White Stripes, who recorded a popular version in 2002. This song is great for intermediate guitar players because it includes barre chords and interesting chord progressions.
While Animals’ recording became a hit, they were not the first ones to do so. Woodie Guthrie, Joan Baez, and Nina Simone had all recorded versions of the song prior to their release. While on tour with Chuck Berry, Eric Burdon heard it at a club in Newcastle, England, and decided to cover it. It is another one of the greatest songs in the minor key.
The distinctive slide guitar solo from this Fleetwood Mac blues-rock original was taken by Santana and transformed into an infectious Latin-inspired wonder that dominated the charts. While keeping much of the song’s bluesy feel, melody, and lyrics, Santana’s version included some jazz, Hungarian folk music, and Latin rhythms.
Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” has one of the most catchy intros I’ve ever heard! Following a guitar introduction, Gábor István Szabó’s “Gypsy Queen” is inspiring all aspects of the song. For its ability to add strong emotions such as sadness to music, D minor, a scale known as the “devil’s scale” is often used in minor keys.
The Rolling Stones also recorded a popular cover of the song, which was released as a single in 1970. This iconic song has been covered by many famous artists and is perfect for intermediate to advanced guitar players because it contains difficult chord progressions and solos.
“Angie” didn’t take long to become a hit. It is another greatest minor key songs. The Rolling Stones’ acoustic-driven breakup ballad debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973, where it rose to number one.
This song, which was virtually entirely composed by Richards at a Swiss Rehab facility after regaining strength in his fingers enough to start strumming again, is based on the key of A minor and is scored for two guitars.
Now, when it comes to defining a song’s emotions and overall mood, it should be clear just how important a scale is. G minor evokes feelings of dissatisfaction and ire, much like A minor does.
Take, for example, System of a Down’s biggest hit “Chopsuey!” This song is all about anger and chaos from the start. The driving force behind this insanely popular and controversial track is a galloping power chord riff on down-tuned guitars, fiery vocals, and provocative lyrics based around the key of G minor.
“Chop Suey’s!” is still influencing and reaching people today, 20 years after its debut, with its unique blend of Chinese and English sounds. The fact that it is the second metal song, following Linkin Park’s “In the End,” to have a billion YouTube views only goes to show how popular it is.
Paul McCartney wrote this B-side gem from the Beatles’ number one LP “A Hard Day’s Night” while vacationing on a boat with his then-girlfriend, actress Jane Asher. It is another one of the popular songs in a minor key.
McCartney confesses in “Things We Said Today’s” deeply personal lyrics that he would eventually fall out of love with Asher and they’ll remember what they said today.
The Beatles recorded “Things We Said Today” in the key of A minor and it was released as a single on July 28, 1964. This ballad is perfect for beginner to intermediate guitar players because it only contains basic chords.
Snuff by The Slipknot is another minor key songs. Now, despite their amazing music, you don’t see a Slipknot single break into the top 10 or 20 very often. This heartrending ballad from All Hope Is Gone, however, did just that! “Snuff” showcased the versatility of heavy metal royalty, rocketing all the way to number 2 on Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks.
“Snuff”, which is based around the key of G minor, tells the story of a man who has been wrongfully accused and executed. The song’s dark atmosphere and powerful lyrics are matched only by its equally heavy musical arrangement.
I See Fire by Ed Sheeran is another one of the most popular songs in minor keys. According to his mentor and guitar teacher, Sheeran has a vast repertoire of energetic, acoustic-based songs that demonstrate his genius for composing music.
His 2013 song “I See Fire” is a beautiful folk ballad written for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second volume in Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy series. Zedd was brought on board to produce an electronic dance remix of the song.
“I See Fire” was originally written in the key of D minor, but Sheeran later recorded a version in E minor that was released on the soundtrack album. The track has been covered by many artists and has even been used as a wedding recessional.
There’s a reason that many heavy metal bands like to play in minor keys, particularly E minor. It has a melancholy feel and is ideal for heavy chugging since it is the lowest note on a guitar (E). If you look through Iron Maiden’s song catalog, you’ll notice that the majority of their music is composed around this key.
“Hallowed Be Thy Name,” written in the same key of E minor, is a seven-minute sonic banquet chock-full of Murray/Smith’s brilliant dual guitar harmonies, Burr’s fast drumming, Dickinson’s awe-inspiring vocals, and Harris’ spine-tingling words. In conclusion, all of the Maiden members are at the top of their game on this track.
Conclusion: Popular Songs in a Minor Keys
While some people might find minor key songs to be dreary or depressing, many popular songs have been written in this key for good reason.
The melancholy feel of a minor key often lends itself well to ballads and slower-paced songs.
As you can see from the examples we’ve provided, there are a variety of different types of songs that can be written in a minor key. What’s your favorite song in a minor key? Let us know in the comments!
That’s all for songs in the minor key guide.
Frequently Ask Questions
Q: What pop songs are in a minor key?
A: Many popular songs in minor keys have been written in a minor key, including “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” by Iron Maiden, and “Snuff” by The Slipknot.
Q: What is the difference between a major key and a minor key?
A: A major key has a cheerful, positive feel, while a minor key has a more melancholy or dark feeling.
Q: Why do I like songs in minor keys?
A: There’s no one answer to this question, as everyone may have their own reasons for enjoying songs in a minor key. Some people find the darker atmosphere to be more atmospheric or emotive, while others may enjoy the challenge of playing songs in a minor key on guitar.
Q: Why are sad songs in minor?
A: This is a common misconception – not all sad songs are in minor keys. Some happy songs are also written in minor keys, such as “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran. The minor key songs simply lends itself well to slower-paced or sadder songs.
Q: Can you write a song in a minor key?
A: Yes, you can write a song in any key you please. A minor key is simply one option, and there are no rules against writing a happy song in minor or a sad song in major.
Q: What rock songs are in A minor key?
A: Some popular rock songs that are in A minor key include “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie, “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance, and “Snuff” by Slipknot.